Volunteers turn green space into community garden


Su Buckle, left, and Linda Berry at the community garden in Park Estate, Shipdham

A village green has been transformed thanks to the efforts of three locals.

Su Buckle, Linda Berry and Trevor Jones have built an enclosed veggie patch and flower beds, and installed paved areas and outdoor furniture at Park Estate, a street in Shipdham, between Dereham and Watton.

Mrs Buckle, 56, who helped to set up a group called the Friends of Park Estate Green, said work started around nine months ago.

She said making the area more inviting would encourage community events to be held there, and provide a space for neighbours to stop and chat.

Park Estate

From left, Flagship Services grounds maintenance operative James Wegg, resident Trevor Jones, Flagship neighbourhood operations manager Joe McNeill, resident Linda Berry, grounds maintenance operative Robert Flood and resident Sue Buckle, at the community garden in Park Estate, Shipdham

Mrs Buckle said: “It used to be an unused area. There’s been a lot of hard work put in and now it’s looking beautiful and inviting.”

Shipdham Parish Council owns the green, and most of the homes around it are owned by Flagship Group and managed by its housing association, Victory Homes

Joe McNeill, Victory’s neighbourhood operations manager, said he was stunned at how much the volunteers had achieved. He said Victory would contribute by providing a bin, planters and park benches.

Mr McNeill said: “Su, Linda and Trevor have done a fantastic job. At Flagship, we’re all about creating sustainable communities, so it’s great to see our tenants improve their neighbourhood to benefit everyone.”

park estate

Park Estate, Shipdham resident Trevor Jones working in the veggie patch

Mrs Buckle said the revamp of the green – including 24 new pink and white flowering cherry blossoms - received grants from the parish council and Watton Rotary Club.

Another feature is a mysterious stone, which the Friends have had mounted on a concrete slab in the corner of the park. Mrs Berry, 67, said: “We think it’s possibly from a former hall which was here until 1947, but no-one knows the full history. It’s a bit of a talking point, and we want to put a plaque next to it.”

Mr Jones, 76, grows potatoes, carrots, beans, gooseberries, and more at the veggie patch. He said any proceeds from their sale would be donated to a local Scout group.

Samantha Shelley is chair of the parish council, which donated £500 towards the project and gave permission for the Friends group to take over managing the green.

Su Buckle

Su Buckle with the stone in Park Estate, Shipdham

She said: “The comments received by the parish council from residents and villagers have all been very positive and the area is truly a shining example of how a plain grassed area can be turned into a lovely community garden.

“The enthusiasm and effort that the group have put into making the garden a truly lovely place to spend time for all, are testament to the community spirit that we celebrate within the village.”

Shipdham is almost two miles long, giving it the title ‘Norfolk’s longest village’. It was home to the US Air Force’s 44th bomber group during the Second World War, and their airfield is now home to an aero club and museum.